Organic Farm successfully wrapped up its season with awards


Sam Summers

The Student Organic Farm received two community awards in November 2019.

In November 2019, the director and student members of Oakland University’s Campus Student Organic Farm (CSOF) wrapped up its farming season with two community awards – “Future Workforce Fuelers” and “RISE” awards.

At the Shriner’s Garden Event Center in Southfield, Michigan, the faculty director of the CSOF Fay Hansen and her student farmers Sean McMahon and Katelyn Smoger received the “Future Workforce Fuelers” award.

One of the MichBusiness award categories, “Future Workforce Fuelers” award is given to a company or an organization that are changing the way people prepare for the future world of work.  

Later, Hansen also received Mahindra Automotive North America “RISE” (Researching Injustice and Social Equality) award at the Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce’s annual Gold and Silver Awards held in Birmingham, Michigan.

According to Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce, the “RISE” award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to beautifying the local community by way of an initiative related to agriculture or the arts.

Being presented with these awards was rewarding as these awards are its first off-campus recognition in terms of awards, according to Hansen. She said recognition and publicity are two of the most important keys in developing the farm.

“What is significant to me about these awards is that they came from the business community and the community around us that we serve,” Hansen said. “The farm is located at a more remote area of campus, so [it] isn’t necessarily recognized as a campus resource by many people.

Sean McMahon, student farm manager of the CSOF, works with Hansen to coordinate daily functions of the farm and manages farm records. As the farm manager, he said he views promotion as a key priority for the organization.

It is both exciting and inspiring to see the farm recognized by the community at large,” McMahon said. “The awards are very meaningful to us. We love to see the OU Community and beyond talking about what we do.”

Tied directly to OU’s mission statement, the CSOF’s goal is to provide a high-impact learning environment, build interdisciplinary knowledge of food systems that promote life-long learning and a healthy lifestyle and build capacity for local food production.

“All of us on the farm enjoy working with the community and the land to sustainably grow delicious vegetables,” McMahon said.

To achieve its goal, Hansen, McMahon and other student members of the CSOF have contributed not only in their farm, but also to the development of the community gardens in Pontiac and Detroit.

“We grow leaders and critical thinkers through our activities in addition to fostering personal and environmental health and social justice,” Hansen said. “It is a fun, engaging, and rewarding activity that in many cases is transformational for students.”

Hansen is going to be presenting a seminar on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 12 p.m. in the Lake Erie room to further talk about the details of the CSOF and how the organization runs for OU community to better understand the importance of this organization.

Students can also find out more information about the CSOF on its homepage and by watching a short video which provides an orientation about the farm.